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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 6th day of Eating, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 5 > Continuing Series > The Strangest Lupe: Part Five

The Strangest Lupe: Part Five

by Tdyans

“I have to go after him Father,” Mero said, as he paced the worn floor of their den. It had been two days since Stranger had left under the shadow of Leer’s accusations, and Mero had fully expected him to have realised his mistake and returned by now.

Carrow, on the other hand, knew better. He had seen the conviction in his adopted son’s eyes. He shook his head. “I want him back as much as you do Mero, but he has to make his own decisions now. We can only hope...”

Mero sighed and stormed out of the cave with his sister Rasca running after him. “Mero, where are you going?” she asked.

Mero spun around to face her. “Dad says Stranger has to make his own decisions. Well, so do I, and I’ve decided to go after him. He’s my brother Rasca-- I have to go. If I can’t bring him back, I at least need to make sure he’s okay.”

Rasca nodded. “I know.” And she watched as Mero turned back and headed West through the woods. She didn’t notice the two small eyes that were viewing this scene from the shelter of a bush. It was Leer’s youngest son and Flep’s younger brother, Jexel who was still little more than a cub. He was old enough though, to want the approval of his father and older brother, and as he watched Mero disappear amongst the trees, he believed he knew just how to achieve it. As Rasca sighed and walked back into the cave where the rest of her family waited, he emerged from his hiding place and picked up Mero’s trail, running as fast as his short legs would carry him to catch up with his quarry.

***

Stranger had traveled relentlessly for two days, stopping only in the early hours of the morning to rest in the open night air before continuing his journey as the first rays of the sun peeled his eyes open at dawn. As he crossed a river by way of a fallen log, he realised that he was in a part of the forest now that he had never seen before. He slowed and made his way more carefully, surrounded by strange sounds and smells. He could see that the trees thinned up ahead, as though the forest was about to open up into a clearing.

As he emerged from the cover of the trees, Stranger’s beak fell open in awe. It was more than just a clearing--there was more open space here than he had ever seen. A deep valley bordered by towering cliffs gaped before him. On the cliffside nearest to him and off to his right, he could make out several caves etched into the sheer rock. As he looked at these, he noticed multicoloured shapes darting through the air. They moved like birds, but they were bigger than any birds he had ever seen. He squinted against the sunlight, trying to see them more clearly, and suddenly he gasped as he realised what they were.

“Hey you!” a voice interrupted him, and Stranger turned only to be more amazed by the two creatures who faced him. He was instantly reminded of his reflection in the walls of the ice cave. He had never seen another Eyrie before. “I don’t know you,” the big red one who had called out before said, staring at him critically, while the yellow Eyrie who was with him walked around Stranger, examining and sniffing at him. “Where did you come from?”

“E-east of here,” Stranger struggled to find his voice through his shock.

“He stinks of Lupe,” the yellow Eyrie growled to his friend.

The red Eyrie glared at Stranger. “Why’s that? Who are you?”

Disregarding the first question, he answered, “My name’s Stranger.”

“Huh, what kind of stupid name is that? And what have you been doin’ with Lupes?”

“I--”

“Hey!” a new voice rang out like a bell. A slender green Eyrie leapt down from a treetop to land between Stranger and the other two Eyries. “Leave him alone.”

The other Eyries backed up a few steps, dipping their heads. “We were only doing our jobs Princess,” the red one defended. “We’re to keep intruders away from our territory.”

The green Eyrie turned her head to look at Stranger and then turned back to the other two. “He’s no intruder--he’s an Eyrie just like you and I. I approve him, so you needn’t worry about it any more. Go back to your work.” They nodded and quickly headed off.

“Th-thank you,” Stranger stuttered as the green Eyrie began walking in the opposite direction, beckoning for him to follow.

“You’re welcome,” she said, smiling warmly at him. “My name is Dantia, by the way.” She stopped and sniffed as the yellow Eyrie had and Stranger cringed. “Why *do* you smell like a Lupe?”

Stranger paused for a moment, looking at her and wondering what he ought to say. But as she looked back at him, he suddenly felt that he could trust her and found himself telling her the entire story, from his adoption by Carrow and Rasca to the disastrous hunt and his exodus from the pack’s territory. Dantia listened attentively and nodded sympathetically as his story ended, and Stranger felt great relief that she had not decided to reject him outright upon hearing it.

“Well,” she said, “You can be a part of our tribe now, be an Eyrie like you’re supposed to be. You can even stay with me and my father in our cave.” Stranger nodded happily at her acceptance of him. “All right, we should go there now,” she said, and suddenly she went into a run and went straight over the side of the cliff on which they stood.

Stranger ran after her in shock, stopped at the edge and yelling down to where she had fallen, “Dantia!” Suddenly, a form darted up from the mist below, and Dantia’s face was in front of his own as she flapped her wings easily, holding herself in the air. Stranger sighed with relief, “I thought--”

“Come on Stranger,” she interrupted, “What are you waiting for? My father’s cave is over there.” She pointed to the cliff across the wide gorge.

It took Stranger a moment to figure out just exactly what she wanted him to do and then he shook his head vehemently. “N-no, I can’t fly!”

“You can’t fly?” For a moment Stranger was afraid that she would laugh at him, but instead Dantia landed beside him back on solid ground. “Well, I’ll just have to teach you. Come on, you’ll love it.” Dantia led Stranger back several yards from the edge of the cliff. “All right, it’s easy. You just have to get started, and then you’ll get the hang of it.” She showed Stranger how to flap his wings properly and then before he knew it they were running side by side toward the cliff edge.

Even as he ran, Stranger was frightened to death and making sure that Dantia knew it. “I don’t think I can do this,” he yelled.

“Yes you can! Just jump when you get there and flap your wings. Okay....Jump!” Against his better judgment, Stranger followed the direction, leaping off of solid ground into the air. But instead of floating upward, he found himself plummeting toward the ground, screeching in panic. Suddenly, Dantia was there, diving down with him, although her dive was obviously controlled. “Flap Stranger!” she shouted, “You forgot to flap your wings.” Shutting his eyes tight in terror, Stranger did as he was told.

Something felt different, and Stranger opened his eyes to find that he was no longer falling toward the earth below. He was balancing perfectly in midair, and he found that by simply changing the position of his legs and flapping his wings differently, he was soaring up through the mist behind Dantia. “Wow!” he cried out triumphantly. “I’m flying!” He tried to do a flip in the air, wobbled a bit, but got it perfect on the second try, as Dantia flew by his side, laughing and applauding the efforts of her pupil. “I love being an Eyrie!” he shouted to the world as they flew out over the forest, seeing more than he had ever seen in his life as the sunset painted everything in pink and purple hues.

Eventually, they both became tired and hungry, and Dantia led him to a mossy cave high on the side of the cliff. A tremendous golden Eyrie waited for them there, and Stranger felt his nervousness of earlier return. “Stranger,” Dantia said, “This is my father Creegan, the king of the Eyries” Stranger bowed, not knowing if he was following proper etiquette or not. “Father,” she continued, “This is Stranger.”

The old Eyrie smiled benevolently at Stranger, instantly placing his trust in his daughter’s judgment. “Hello Stranger,” his voice boomed. “Welcome to my tribe.”

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

The Strangest Lupe: Part One

The Strangest Lupe: Part Two

The Strangest Lupe: Part Three

The Strangest Lupe: Part Four

The Strangest Lupe: Part Six

The Strangest Lupe: Part Seven

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